LGBTQ older adults were the focus of Affinity Community Services ( Affinity ) and The Care Plan, LLC's second annual LGBTQ Care Fair Dec. 16 at Affinity's headquarters.
The event featured resources and education centered around Medicare and Medicaid coverage, advanced directives, care planning and aging as an LGBTQ person.
Affinity Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon spoke about the history of the organization and why it was founded 22 years ago. She noted the primary reason for Affinity's creation was to elevate Black LBTQ women's voices at a time when other LGBTQ organizations were not giving them a platform and to bring a queer presence to the South Side. Rupert-Gordon explained that Affinity recently began working on older adults concerns because the membership is aging and this is what they wanted. She called on attendees to visit the community partner tables, previewed Affinity's annual Burning Bowl on Jan. 13 and noted that SAGE sponsored the lunch from Subway.
Ahead of the presentations, Affinity Trailblazer Phyllis Johnson ( co-peer leader alongside Toi Williams ) spoke about the group's two monthly activitiesMovie Mondays on the third Monday of the month at 2 p.m. and an evening potluck on the second Wednesday of the month where they engage in fellowship and discuss an agreed upon topicas well as other events held throughout the year.
The Care Plan owner Jacqueline Boyd said she hoped attendees would come away from the event with tools to live longer, live well and protect themselves both physically and financially. She noted LGBTQ elders are underserved and overlooked by healthcare systems and said one of Affinity's missions is to turn that around.
AARP Illinois Associate State Director of Advocacy and Outreach Terri Worman spoke about advanced directives including the resources available to the public. She said many of these things can be found on the AARP and American Bar Association websites.
Worman explained that a digital power of attorney focuses on everything one does online including social media and financial accounts. She noted that each person needs to have a designated person or people who have access to these accounts so they can be dealt with after a person dies. Worman said Illinois passes a law that gives a personal representative or trustee the authorization to access and manage a deceased person's digital life.
Among the other topics Worman focused on were the five steps of estate planning for LGBT couples, health directives, living wills, power of attorney and organ/whole-body donation.
Transitional Care of Arlington Heights Clinical Liaison Libby Reinecke spoke about the post-acute care services they provide including the fact that all staff members are required to complete LGBTQ and cultural competency training. She also outlined the differences between Medicare ( federally run ) and Medicaid ( state run ) and how to enroll in each program and noted Transitional Care takes both of those insurance plans in addition to private insurance.
Representatives from vendors Joyful Bliss ( they also offered mini-massages for attendees ), Neptune Society, New York Life Insurance, Howard Brown Health, Center on Halsted/Center on Addison, The Village Chicago and Dawson Relocation Services also spoke about the services they provide.